Apple and Qualcomm settle all disputes, reach six-year agreement on chips

Apple and Qualcomm are officially putting their differences behind them. The two companies have announced that they are formally dropping all litigation between them. That’s not all, though — beyond simply not pursuing court action against each other, they’re taking their relationship a step further with a six-year license agreement, which could be extended by another two years.

The news will have a significant impact on the iPhone over the next few years. Apple was rumored to be considering working with Intel on the 5G modem in an upcoming iPhone, possibly the iPhone’s 2020 refresh. Now, however, Apple will instead lean on Qualcomm to supply the iPhone’s 5G modems, meaning that Apple could get 5G modems sooner, considering that Qualcomm has already developed 5G modems and Intel has reportedly been struggling in that regard. All iPhone models released in 2018 use Intel’s modems.

The news is a nice break from what’s usually seen when “Apple” and “Qualcomm” are in the same sentence. The two companies have been fighting in court for years now, and in multiple countries. According to a joint statement from the two companies, the deal includes a payout from Apple to Qualcomm.

Apple and Qualcomm’s legal battles centered on a few different things. Qualcomm argued that Apple was infringing on a number of Qualcomm-owned patents. Apple, on the other hand, said that Qualcomm was using its market dominance to charge abnormally high licensing fees for those patents.  The lawsuits began in 2017, and the two companies entered court this week. In recent months, Qualcomm has been putting pressure on Apple. In Germany and China, Qualcomm was able to win iPhone bans for select older iPhone models.

In November, Qualcomm CEO Steve Mellenkopf said that the two companies were close to settling, while Apple CEO Tim Cook contradicted that statement, saying that Apple hadn’t been engaged in settlement discussions with Qualcomm since the third quarter of 2018.

There’s still a lot we don’t know about the agreement between the two companies. For starters, we don’t yet know exactly how much Apple is paying Qualcomm, nor do we know the terms of the chip agreement, beyond the fact that it’s for six-years.


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